North Grenville’s Van Turken Day is fast approaching, and a small group of dedicated volunteers have planned a week of virtual activities to mark the occasion. Van Turken was first spotted in December, 2019, along her namesake Van Buren Street. Throughout January, 2020, and into February, the female turkey wandered around town, often hanging out on the busy thoroughfare of County Road 43. She even made a visit to the Municipal Centre and chased an employee through the parking lot. After evading the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for two days, Van Turken was finally captured on February 13 and released in a safer location.
Van Turken captured the hearts of the people of North Grenville, with many people sharing photos and videos of her antics. Resident Lisa Brownrigg created the Facebook Group Van Turken- Kemptville’s favourite turkey, which now has over 2,200 members. Residents created t-shirts, mugs, pillows, ornaments, and more to honour North Grenville’s favourite turkey, and the South Branch Bistro even created a signature cocktail called the Van Turkentini. At its meeting of February 18, 2020, North Grenville council voted unanimously to proclaim the second Saturday in February as Van Turken Day in the municipality.
This Saturday, February 13, is the first annual Van Turken Day in North Grenville. A small group of volunteers, including Lisa, Fiona McKenney, and Dana Collings, have been planning ways to celebrate and bring the community together since last year. However, many of their plans are not doable due to COVID-19. Instead, they planned a virtual celebration which includes Van Turken themed challenges that families can do from the safety of their own homes. Writing and performing an original Van Turken song, building a snow turkey, creating a Van Turken portrait, and doing a Van Turken impression are all ways that residents of all ages can get involved in Van Turken Day. Organizers encourage participants to share their challenges on the Van Turken Facebook page, so everyone can enjoy the fun.
Many local businesses are also joining in on the festivities. Liz Woods of Swamp Doll Studios has uploaded a free Van Turken paint night video that is available all this week on YouTube, and Matthew and Kristine Loguisto of You Design HQ have created a build-your-own Van Turken kit, available for $10 each. To make sure mealtimes are filled with Van Turken fun, Mr. Mozzarella will be offering their DIY pizza kits, which include colouring/activity pages to complete while the pizza bakes. North Grenville’s Corporate Media Relations Officer, Jill Sturdy, says that, while they are limited to what they can do this year due to the stay-at-home order, the municipality will definitely be sharing and supporting the activities promoted on Van Turken’s Facebook page.
Lisa hopes that the virtual Van Turken Day will help residents remember the joy that Van Turken brought to the community last year. She is most looking forward to seeing kids/families participate in the activities and have a bit of non-COVID fun. “We hope that we can bring smiles to the community, just as Van Turken did; that we can highlight local businesses, and that a fun daily distraction is a welcome change during these difficult times.”
To learn more about each of the activities and get involved, visit the Van-Turken – Kemptville’s favourite turkey Facebook page.